Pakistani Christians Stopped From Crossing Airport: Alleged Asylum Seekers

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Irfan Masih and Maria Batool, Christian residents of Kasur had been invited to Sri Lanka by a family friend who is also a Sri Lankan national. They obtained visas and sponsor letters and finally purchased tickets for departure to Sri Lanka from Allama Iqbal International Airport on May 12.

At the airport, FIA officials demanded certain documents from them and even after seeing the documents; they did not allow Irfan and Maria to board the plane. They purchased new tickets for a June1st flight and managed to obtain boarding passes only to be snatched from their hand just before boarding the plane.

FIA officials claimed that a number of Pakistanis have already traveled to Thailand and Sri Lanka to seek asylum and the later might do the same. They would therefore not be allowed to leave the country as the religion section on their passport said “Christian”.

Petitioners Irfan and Maria said they had valid visas and there was no reason anyone could stop them from traveling aboard and being Christian does not mean they can not move freely. Counsel Advocate Mushtaq Gill is pursuing the law suit for the petitioners.

Gill said that citizens whose passports mentioned Christian were often asked to provide assurance that they are not asylum seekers. The Lahore High Court has demanded a detailed report from director general FIA regarding the issue.

Christians right to freedom of movement is being rejected because of their faith. The fact that so many Christians have sought asylum speaks volumes about the kind of lives they were living in Pakistan.